Acts 16:1

From Antioch,  via Sryria and Cilicia, to Derbe and Lystra.

Wednesday, 12 April 2023

Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. Acts 16:1

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Acts 15 ended with a note that Paul went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. Though he was accompanied by Silas, the verse spoke only of Paul. Chapter 16 begins with the singular as well, saying, “Then he came to Derbe and Lystra.”

Notably, the record of the journey of Barnabas and John is omitted by Luke. With the decision of the council established concerning Gentiles, the focus has turned to Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. As for this location, it is the area where Paul and Barnabas had fled in Acts 14:6 after having been chased out of Iconium. This is the area Paul referred to in Acts 15:36 –

“Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.’”

Instead of Barnabas, it is Silas who is with him this time. While in this area that Paul had previously evangelized, it next says, “And behold, a certain disciple was there.” The wording does not indicate whether Timothy was in Lystra or Derbe. However, Lystra is the nearest antecedent, and it is named again in relation to Timothy in the next verse and in 2 Timothy 3 –

“But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.” 2 Timothy 3:11, 12

Being a disciple means that he was probably converted by Paul on his previous missionary trip or that someone who was converted had later spoken to him about Jesus. Paul will call him a “son in the faith” or a “faithful son” in his epistles which may be an indication that Paul was a father to him through conversion.

In Philemon, Paul will say, “my son Onesimus, who I have begotten while in my chains,” when referring to Onesimus’ conversion. Therefore, it is possible that Timothy was one of the converts of Paul and Barnabas. Whatever the case, he is now referred to for the first time in Scripture with the words, “named Timothy.”

The name comes from the Greek words timé, price or honor, and theos, God. Thus, the name means something like (passively) Honored of God or (actively) Honoring of God. Other similar variations are given such as Dear of God, etc. Of him, it next says, “the son of a certain Jewish woman.”

This will be an important distinction that Paul will deal with in just two more verses. For now, it says of his mother that she was one “who believed.”

The meaning is certainly that she was a believer in Christ. Nothing indicates how this came about, but being around of Derbe and Lystra, it is likely that the message carried by Paul and Barnabas had made it to her ears either directly or indirectly. This faith is referred to by Paul in his first letter to Timothy –

“I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.” 1 Timothy 1:3-5

Noting that his mother is a Jew is important because it next says, “but his father was Greek.” Nothing is said of the father’s connection to either Judaism or Christianity. If such a connection existed, Luke would have noted it as he meticulously tends to highlight such things. Despite this, the faith of his grandmother and his mother was strong and that was instilled in Timothy either for his conversion or as an example to him to remain strong after his conversion.

Life application: There are faithful women noted in Scripture that were set as examples to their households. One of them is Abigail, the wife of Nabal. While he was an uncaring drunk, she saved him and his household from being killed by David through her faithful deeds, eventually becoming the wife of David after the death of Nabal. Likewise, Proverbs 31 describes the conscientious conduct of the woman of faith, describing someone Solomon was intimately aware of.

Faithful women such as Mary and Tabitha are noted in Luke’s writings. Though the history of Scripture predominantly is centered on men, women are carefully noted throughout its pages as well. Paul highlights the importance of women in an obvious way in his writings –

“For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.” 1 Corinthians 11:8-12

God is revealing the history of the redemption of humanity through the pages of the Bible. As the man is the head of the house, the focus is naturally on the line of man throughout its pages. But within the greater story, we are reminded that women play an integral role in this process. Women should not be upset that certain restrictions are placed upon them in the church. They are created differently, and limitations are set because of these differences. And yet, there is an honor upon women that cannot be denied. Any noted figure in the church, even the humanity of Jesus, came through the woman.

When the biblical model is adhered to, things will work properly, and proper respect will be granted. Let us remember this and adhere to the order which God has ordained according to His wisdom.

Lord God, thank You for the differences that exist between men and women. Together, we form a unit that is ordained by You that is lacking when it is not properly adhered to. Help us to follow the guidelines set down by You so that we will not err in our lives as we live in Your presence. Amen.